Heavy rains scare tobacco production
Heavy rains that the country continues to receive is scaring stakeholders in the tobacco industry who have indicated that if it continues, the country may lose a great deal of the crop.
In an interview, Chief Executive Officer of the Tobacco Association of Malawi (Tama), Felix Thole, said excess rains could be hazardous to the development of the crop in the field but it was too early to determine if the current rains pose any danger to the crop.
“If the rains continue, that will have an impact [on the harvest] but we are not very sure yet as to how far the rains will continue to come and if it is too much or enough for the crop in the field.
“So far the expectation is good in that most of the farmers that applied for production have put the tobacco in the fields despite the different rain intensity in various tobacco growing districts, very soon we will go around appreciating the establishment of the tobacco and that will give us a better picture,” Thole said.
He added that some farmers who registered to produce the crop have failed to do so which raises expectations that the country may produce the crop according to demand.
In the 2019/2020 season tobacco buying companies expressed interest to buy 161 million kilogrammes of the crop while the registered farmers were allocated quotas amounting to a total production of 170 million kilogrammes.
In a separate interview Chairperson of the Agriculture Research and Extension Trust (Aret), Reuben Maigwa, concured with Thole stressing that they are monitoring the rainfall situation in the tobacco growing districts.
“It may become worrisome if some of the tobacco growing districts may become flooded with the heavy rains but it is not yet the situation. In some districts these are the first stable rains while in some it is the second rains so we will keep under watch but so far the situation is normal,” Maigwa said.
Spokesperson in the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development, Priscilla Mateyu, said in an interview that the country has so far received normal rains and is poised for a good harvest this year.
In a statement, Director of the Meteorological Department, Jolamu Nkhokwe, cautioned that most parts of the country should brace for another wave of heavy downpours with consequent floods resulting from a deep low pressure in association with an active Inter- Tropical Convergence Zone.
The condition, according to the statement, is expected to persist over most areas in Central and Southern regions, and also lakeshore areas from January 5 to 9 2020 with high likelihood of loss and damage to property.
Tobacco remains Malawi’s major export crop and foreign exchange earner.